Disperse overlapping labels in Grapher

Labels are a valuable tool for adding clarity to graphs.  However, dense datasets often result in overlapping labels that are difficult to read.  Grapher offers both automatic and manual methods for dispersing overlapping labels.


Scatter plot with labels at their default positions



Scatter plot with dispersed labels

How to automatically disperse labels

  1. In the Object Manager, select one or more plots that have overlapping labels
  2. Click Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Disperse Labels
  3. In the Disperse Overlapped Labels dialog, adjust the dispersion settings as desired
  4. Click OK.
  5. Label positions can be reset by clicking Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Reset Positions, or they can be individually moved by clicking Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Move Labels

Disperse labels notes:

  • Label positions can be reset by clicking Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Reset Positions
  • If the Dispersion direction is set to 'Move around clock', the labels will space radially at 5 degree increments
  • The distance between labels is set to an internal default of 0.5 inches. IF this setting is not meeting your needs and you would like additional control over label-to-label spacing, please let us know at support@goldensoftware.com.
  • If your labels have already been dispersed but some are still overlapping, you can apply the dispersion again. Uncheck the Reset positions before dispersing box to apply the dispersion to labels that are still overlapping, non-overlapped labels will remain in the same position.


If further adjustment is desired after dispersing labels or you simply want to move labels for aesthetic reasons, manual adjustment gives you full control of plot, axis, legend, or graph labels.

How to manually reposition labels

  1. Click the plot, axis, legend, or graph whose labels you want to move in the Object Manager.
  2. Click the Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Move Labels command. 
  3. Click on the label to select it. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the label to the new desired location. 
  4. Repeat for each additional label that should be moved.
  5. Press ESC on the keyboard or click Graph Tools | Plot Tools | Move Labels again when all labels are moved to the desired new location.
  6. If lines should be drawn from the label to the point, change the Label Leader Line properties on the Line tab in the Property Manager.


Updated August 2023



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